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Common Proteins to Braise
Here, Chef Keller braises fork-tender boneless beef short ribs in red wine, a time-intensive recipe that is worth the patience it requires. Chef Keller starts this dish two days in advance, so if you’re planning on serving short ribs at your next dinner party, make sure to plan ahead!
Many other proteins lend themselves beautifully to this braising technique:
- beef cheeks
- lamb shanks
- veal shanks
- pork shoulder
You can also make this recipe with chicken for a result similar to the preparation in coq au vin.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Braising Techniques
- As always, use the best quality beef you can find, and only cook with wine that you’d want to drink.
- Always cook off the alcohol first—or the alcohol will begin to cook your meat.
- This recipe calls for a mirepoix, which is meant to be discarded, not eaten.
- After using it to marinate the short ribs, Chef Keller clarifies the dry red wine marinade—which results in a brighter, purer flavor—and braises the short ribs in it. Finally, he reduces the red wine sauce and strains it, making a glaze for the short ribs.
- To reduce liquid via evaporation during the slow cooking process, Chef Keller uses a cartouche, which is a parchment paper cover that allows for some evaporation during braising while keeping the meat submerged.
At the satisfying end of a three-day process, Chef Keller serves these short ribs with creamy polenta and mushroom conserva as an earthy complement.
To Make the Short Ribs:
Trim the excess fat from the meat and cut each piece against the grain into approximately six 7-ounce portions. If you have small boneless short ribs, there is no need to split them in half. Reserve any trimmings to make ground beef.
Place the meat in the plastic bag-lined container with the chilled marinade and refrigerate for 12 to 16 hours.
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Remove the meat and the bouquet garni from the marinade.
Transfer the marinade (including the mirepoix) into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Clarify the liquid by skimming off the impurities that rise to the top. When thoroughly clarified, the marinade will return to the vibrant color of the wine. Remove from heat.
Heat ¼ inch of canola oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Season both sides of each piece of meat with salt and dredge in flour, patting off the excess. When the oil is shimmering, add the meat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on all sides.
Because of the red wine, when the meat is properly browned it will be dark brown with a purple tint rather the golden brown we’re most familiar with. When all sides have browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined rack.
Pour off the excess oil from the pan, leaving the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan for deglazing.* Note: Deglazing is the process of removing and dissolving the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan by adding liquid.
Return to medium-high heat and add the clarified marinade. Add the short ribs, veal stock, light chicken stock, and bouquet garni. The meat should be covered with liquid; if it’s not, add more veal and chicken stock as necessary.
Bring the liquid to a simmer on the stove. Cover with a cartouche—a parchment paper lid with a hole in the middle—transfer to the oven, and braise for about 3 hours, or until the meat is so tender that a cake tester slides right through, as if it were butter. (Note that you should use the cake tester to determine doneness, the time is only a guideline.)
Transfer the meat to a ceramic baking dish and carefully pour the cooking liquid over the meat. Cover with the cartouche and let cool; then cover with plastic wrap and let rest overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove the meat from the baking dish and transfer the remaining braising liquid to a sauce pot. Bring to a simmer. Strain the liquid through a chinois, tapping the edge of the chinois with a spoon to help the liquid through. Discard the remnants of the mirepoix.
Place the meat into a saute pan. Add a third of the strained braising liquid and add enough light chicken stock to slightly reduce the viscosity, starting with a couple of ounces. Note: The amount you need to use is based on the surface area of your pan. The wider your pan, the more you need to add. The goal is to have enough liquid in the pan to heat the short rib through and glaze it, but without having a ton of liquid left. You don’t want the meat to be sitting in a soup, but you also don’t want the liquid to turn to syrup and have a cold center.
Bring the liquid to a simmer, basting the meat and allowing the sauce to glaze it. Reduce until it is a sauce consistency. Finish the sauce with butter for a velvety texture.
If not serving immediately, remove the pan from the heat and cover the meat with a lid or another cartouche. Keep in a warm spot or in a 300°F oven until ready to serve, or for up to 45 minutes.
Serve with the creamy polenta and mushroom conserva and top with freshly cracked black pepper and sel gris.
Watch a complete demonstration of the cooking process for this dish in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Red Wine Braised Short Ribs Recipe
For the Marinade
- 1 bottle red wine
- 75 grams carrots, cut into a 1-inch dice
- 75 grams leeks, cut into 1-inch dice
- 75 grams onions, cut into a 1-inch dice
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 bouquet garni (recipe below)
- Sauce pot
- Blowtorch (or barbeque lighter)
- 1-gallon sealable plastic bag
- 6-quart storage container
For the Bouquet Garni:
- 10 Italian parsley sprigs
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
To Make the Marinade:
- Bring the red wine to a simmer in a sauce pot over low heat.
- Add the mirepoix and bouquet garni.
- Use a blowtorch to burn off the alcohol. (If you don’t have access to a blowtorch, you can use a barbeque lighter as an alternative.)
- Continue to simmer the marinade until the flame from the alcohol goes out; continue until you no longer smell hot alcohol aroma.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the marinade to a container lined with a sealable plastic bag and chill completely.
For the Short Ribs
- 6 pieces boneless short ribs, 7 oz each / 210 grams per portion*
- Canola oil, for browning meat
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour
- 700 grams roasted veal stock**
- 700 grams light chicken stock**
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Sel gris
- Chives, for garnish
- Cutting board
- Peltex spatula
- Sheet pans lined with paper towels
- 12-inch sauté pan
- Parchment paper
- Kitchen shears
- Cake tester
- Large kitchen spoon
- 13-by-9-inch ceramic baking dish
- Plastic wrap
- 3-quart saucepan
- 5-quart sauté pan
*Ingredient note: Talk to your butcher if you want to get a short rib plate. Give your butcher the exact code for the cut, 123D short rib, which is about 3 pounds, untrimmed. If you can’t source this cut, you can buy bone-in short ribs and trim it off the bone. The technique is applicable regardless of portion size.
**Ingredient note: Chef Keller teaches you how to make roasted veal stock and light chicken stock in his MasterClass. Also note that the quantities of stock can change depending on the size and shape of your cooking vessel. What’s important is that you completely cover the meat. Adjust to ensure that your meat is submerged.